Burnout Red Flags | What Are The Warning Signs


In today’s age, there are certain words that are thrown out and used by many without really knowing the correct context in which they should be used in. “Burnout” and “depression” are examples.

In connection with this, for instance, the word depression. It is an actual medical condition which has a medical definition, and when people using this so casually downplays the seriousness of this condition.

Nowadays, a lot of people claim that they are depressed. With the vast reach of social media and the internet today, these terms reach more people as well and they are used in ways that muddles the seriousness of the condition.

Another term that is abused in the same manner is “burnout”. A lot of people may claim that they are already experiencing burnout because they got extremely tired from doing certain things.

They may not be depressed in a clinical sense, rather, they are only suffering from burnout, or having burnout red flags.

However, the actual and correct definition of burnout is a lot more technical, and this means that there are certain conditions that need to be considered before this can be correctly diagnosed.

In simple terms, feeling tired does not always mean one is already experiencing burnout, in the same manner that feeling mentally exhausted does not always equate to depression. So, what does it mean to be burnout?

Are there factors or conditions that need to be satisfied? Medical journals around the internet may provide varying answers; yet, there are themes that are always constant.

In this discussion, we shall explain the basic warning signs that one needs to observe in order to determine the possibility of having a burnout.

Basically, burnout may be referred to as that condition wherein one is in complete and mental exhaustion. If this is left unchecked, it may cause many adverse consequences in one’s personal and professional life.

Warning Signs and Red Flags

Suffering from burnout should not be taken lightly. Leaving such feeling and experience unattended and pretending okay will do more harm than good.

There are various ways to cope with such situations, which may not be expensive at the initial stage when the same can be correct through sheer will.

Making oneself engage in leisure, positive, and worthwhile activities may prevent one from denigrating. Thus, such will be the initial and inexpensive steps.

On the other, one must not lose sight of the signs when one is headed for burn out. In this way, prevention will prove beneficial rather than curing burnout.

Here are instances of burnout red flags or warning signs the you are heading for a burnout.

1] It is Getting Harder to Complete Simple Tasks

In the course of one’s personal life, and even professional life, there are things that are done on a daily basis. There are tasks that are considered routine activities and these could be done even without exerting much effort.

Routine tasks, including those that are not considered to be simple, are expected to take less time given the mastery and the practice that are put into completing these tasks.

They say practice makes perfect, and the more you do something, the more that the skills needed in completing these tasks become second nature. However, in case of a burnout, this may not be the case.

When a person is in complete mental and physical exhaustion, “simple tasks” are not so simple at all. When some routine tasks take 2 or even 3 times longer than it usually takes, then that is a sign of burnout.

Moreover, aside from the fact that the simple task now usually takes longer than it should or used to take, another sign is that it becomes harder to focus on the task for a longer period of time.

This is may be a manifestation of burnout because as mentioned earlier, these tasks, when in optimal level, become routine undertakings and the skills needed to perform them become second nature, which means that maintaining attention should not be an issue.

If these two signs are present, namely, taking longer and having hard time to focus on certain activity, there is a high probability that a person is already experiencing a burnout.

When even the simplest and easiest of tasks start to become a bother, then it is definitely a good indicator to seek for professional medical help.

2] You Have Severe Mood or Behavioral Changes

Another indication of a person’s well-being are the mood, attitude, and behavior. Changes to these factors are the first external signs of burnout that are readily seen by other people. Obviously, there are many factors that influence changes to our mood and attitudes.

Some causes of mood-swings are the lack of proper rest and sleep, changes to the person’s hormones, stress, or personal events in our lives such as the passing of a loved one.

On top of these possible factors, burnout is one reason why mood-swings also occur. When a person is in complete mental and physical exhaustion, it is also when he or she turns to destructive behaviors such as alcoholism or smoking.

Sadly, there are even more destructive behaviors that people resort to such as taking of illegal drugs. Mood-swings are often manifested through intense irritability and anger.

When your co-worker, or your friend, who is usually nice and gentle, becomes too irritable, this may mean that he or she is in desperate need of rest and recovery.

This happens because burnout blocks our propensity for logical thinking and emotions regulation. Hence, even an individual is nice and gentle or even if he or she is a highly educated person, the latter may act negatively especially in highly stressful environment.

This is also the reason why we should not always judge other people or always take it against them when they are in a bad mood. Even the nice guys will lose their cool if he or she is experiencing a burnout. Mood-swings are, therefore, great indicators of a burnout.

3] Increase in Mental Health Problems

Another manifestation that a person is experiencing burnout is that he or she is starting to suffer other mental health related conditions such as anxiety and depression. In case the person is already officially diagnosed with any such condition, the symptoms of which may be aggravated.

If a person is completely exhausted both in mind and body, it will lead to conditions such as sleeplessness and insomnia. When a person has insomnia, it deprives him or her of the rest that will protect him from mood swings and irritability.

Ultimately, these conditions are all related and may aggravate each other. This is another reason why it is very important to prevent burnout at the onset, or during the early stages. The reason is that, once burnout happens, a person is also at a greater risk of anxiety and depression.

These mental conditions are not so easy to deal with. A person who is diagnosed with depression needs to attend to a lot of things: counselling with a psychiatrist, medicine, and other requirements that are usually expensive.

Moreover, depression and anxiety are often misunderstood by people who do not have these conditions and that is why depressed people isolate themselves from the rest of the society.

This is not good for the overall health of an individual, this will lead to more harms and problems. Aside from the fact that it will be costly, and it will adversely affect our productivity at work or at school, this may also affect our relationships with the people around us.

Sometimes, mental health conditions just do not go away. Some conditions are there for life, subject to control, regulation, or otherwise.

4] Lack of Energy or Severe Fatigue

It is shown in a lot of medical journals that it takes more than a night’s sleep to fix the exhaustion caused by a burnout. It is that kind of exhaustion that requires a lot of intervention including medicine, a longer break from work or school, and constant support from loved ones.

With burnout, we are not just irritable, we do not just experience mood swings. We generally feel weak and lethargic. But this is not the usual feeling of tiredness, or the usual lack of energy after doing something big or difficult.

This lack of energy is a result of a lot of things that may lead to the burnout. No matter how much sleep we get in a few number of days, or no matter how much food we eat in days, unless we are able to pinpoint the causes of burnout, the problem will not go away.

It is important to accept this as a normal consequence of the burnout, so it is important to not get too frustrated about it. During these days, it is important to be kind to one’s self. Another important matter to consider is if the conduct of any physical activities.

Usually, it is by doing heavy physical activities that cause great stress and tiredness. When one plays sports for example, or cleans the house, or carries heavy things, it is expected that you will get tired.

Nonetheless, if you still feel extreme feeling of lack of energy even without extreme physical activities, then it is proper to consider burnout as a reason.

5] No Interest in Social Activities

Lastly, burnout usually results to social isolation. When one is experiencing a burnout, as discussed earlier, it may aggravate other mental health conditions, it may also affect our mood and energy levels. These affect the way we deal with other people.

In a lot of cases, we feel that we might be too sensitive and weak to just deal with the energies of the people around us. Because of our mood swings, we are discouraged to unnecessarily meet other people.

In effect, to avoid potential conflicts and to avoid overexerting ourselves, we tend to avoid the crowd and we isolate ourselves. People who are experiencing burnout find solace in loneliness and isolation.

Sometimes, this affects the way we see our hobbies, or the things we usually enjoy and love doing. Sometimes, not even the most enjoyable activity can enlighten the mood of a person who is suffering from a burnout.

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